Best Buy: What Are Yr Record Store Memories?

Saturday is Record Store Day, so recollections about key scores are flooding forward. Anyone want to share vivid memories about discs they paid for at a beloved shop? Hit the comments section. Here are 20 of mine.

Rick Nelson, “Fools Rush In” – Hathaway’s Music Store, East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

The Monkees, Headquarters – Ladd’s, Providence, Rhode Island

Moby Grape, “8:05” – Main Music, East Greenwich Rhode Island.

Jefferson Airplane, After Bathing at Baxters – Hathaway’s, East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Todd Rundgren, A Wizard, A True Star – Midland Records, Warwick, Rhode Island

Richard & Linda Thompson, I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight – Phantasmagoria, Montreal

Geoff & Maria Muldaur, Pottery Pie – Harvard Coop, Cambridge

Sly & the Family Stone, Stand – K&M Records, Providence, Rhode Island

Gram Parsons, Return of the Grievous Angel, Beacon Shops, Providence, Rhode Island

John David Souther – Rhymes Records, Warwick, Rhode Island

The Clash, “Jail Guitar Doors” – Rhymes Records, Providence, Rhode Island

Julius Hemphill, Dogon AD – Festoons, Boston

Various Artists, Wanna Buy a Bridge?: A Rough Trade Sampler – In Your Ear, Providence

Tim Berne, Songs and Rituals In Real Time, SoHo Music Gallery, New York

Richard Berry, Get Out of the Car – Loony Tunes, Westerly, Rhode Island

Lester Bowie, The 5th Power – Tower Records, New York

Steve Lacy, Futurities – Integrity In Music, Wethersfield, Connecticut

Sun Ra, Disco 3000 – In Your Ear, Boston, Massachusetts

Delmore Brothers, Sand Mountain Blues – Great Escape, Nashville, Tennessee

Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream For Crow (cassette) – Sally’s Place, Westport, Connecticut

Complete Charlie Parker on Verve – Tower Records, Nashville, Tennessee

Johnny Paycheck, On His Way – Other Music, New York

A few tales crop up: when i bought “8:05” i should have picked up the other MG 45s, too. Columbia released the entire album as singles for a stunt – they’ve gotta be valuable if sold together these days. I was falling in love with someone in Montreal when we purchased Bright Lights; the emotion in the room was high, and I can vividly recall kissing my sweetie outside the door when we left. Customers would line-up outside the store during those heady days of punk rock Brit 45s. The Brown students loved them some Pistols, Damned, XTC et al, and the import sleeves were always way cool. Working the cash register side of the counter, I grabbed a copy of the Clash before they all sold out – which they did, all 50 of ’em – in about 6 minutes. It was Tim Berne himself who sold me a copy of Songs and Rituals at the SoHo Music Gallery – he and Zorn were among the dudes who worked there. He autographed it with “Get Out Of Music – TB.” I was tickled to play “The Meanest Jukebox In Town” after getting home from Other Music – the wife and I had a swell time dancing to that one.

10 responses to “Best Buy: What Are Yr Record Store Memories?

  1. just bought earl hines “the mighty fatha” with richard davis and elvin jones at groove yard in oakland, ca. i’ve already listened to it 10 times. and can’t remember where i bought it but the first LP i ever bought was “pac man fever” by buckner and garcia.

  2. As a former record store employee, I would rather list my top 10 memories from those days of employment. That OK, Macnie?

    1. Black coffee and precious moments with my first record store manager.
    2. Buying Leo Kottke’s 6 & 12 String Guitar for a quarter (the buyer knew I was looking for it!)
    3. Ordering Robyn Hitchcock’s I Often Dream Of Trains import CD nearly two years before I owned a CD player.
    4. Listening to a couple 14 year old boys in the Rhymes metal section describe and compare Metallica and Megadeth.
    5. Having three guys run up to the counter and ask me what Greg Norton just purchased. They were disappointed by my answers.
    6. Selling a copy of the Lyres “On Fyre” off the stereo in Minnesota. I made the guy wait until I heard “She Pays The Rent.”
    7. Listening to the Flaming Lips’ “Soft Bulletin” at conversation-drowning levels in a large store with wood floors and cabinets. It has never sounded that good again.
    8. Finding the Stiff box set in the cut-out bin.
    9. Using a 1930s cash register that I had to punch in multiples of ten for each dollar and change. Never thought I would miss all that pounding, but damn, it was cathartic!
    10. Every regular customer who brought me a cup of coffee.

    Scenes of the above:
    Looney Tunes, Westerly, RI
    Rhymes Records, New Haven, CT
    Newbury Comics, Boston, MA
    Roadrunner Records, Minneapolis, MN
    Electric Fetus, Minneapolis, MN

  3. Started out to write 4 or 5 of these and got carried away:

    1. Paul McCartney — Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Target, Minnetonka, Minnesota (1st 45)
    2. The Who – Who’s Next, Lechmere, Danvers, Massachusetts (1st real rock and roll LP I bought, too embarrassed to count the Sonny and Cher Live LP)
    3. The New York Dolls — New York Dolls, Forgot the name of the store, Beverly, Mass.(I was in 8th grade– never will forget the look on my dad’s face when he asked to see what I’d bought)
    4. Patti Smith – Horses, The Harvard Coop, Cambridge, Mass (wasn’t in any North Shore record stores, but the mission was urgent enough to trek into Cambridge for the disc)
    5. The Buzzcocks – Spiral Scratch, Thayer St Records, Providence, RI (where this Brown student bought all those British punk import 45s with the cool pic sleeves)
    6. The Fall – Live at the Witch Trials, Rockit Records, Saugus, Mass. (Dredd Foole/Dan Ireton dispensed a lot of good advice from behind the counter, source of many Rough Trade purchases).
    7. X – Wild Gift, Newbury Comics, Boston, Mass. (drove back up to Boston the day after their show at The Channel to get it signed by John Doe and Exene at an in-store)
    8. Husker Du – Zen Arcade, Looney Tunes, Westerly RI. (hand delivered to Sheldon St Providence by Macnie. Didn’t Double Nickels on the Dime come out that same week?)
    9. King Missile – Mystical Shit, In Your Ear, Providence, RI (sold to me by future film maker Jon Moritsugu who used to pitch all the Shimmy Disc stuff)
    10. Soft Boys – A Can of Bees, Tom’s Tracks, Providence, RI
    11. Jerry Lee Lewis — The Sun Years (all glorious 12 LPs), Cheapo Records, Cambridge, Mass (the only logical response to my parents’ question about what I wanted for a college graduation present, Cheapo Records – Bear Family Central)
    12. Pavement – Demolition Plot J-7, Fast Forward, Providence, RI (Owner Ron — proof that not all record store owners are surly and ill-mannered)
    13. Wanda Jackson – Right or Wrong (since signed by Wanda), Round Again Records, Providence, RI (where I once watched the owner — in a fit of rage over a persistent and obviously effective prank caller — literally destroy a telephone until his hands bled)
    14. Michael Hurley – Blue Navigator, Bow Wow Records, Albuquerque, NM (luckily the owner didn’t realize how rare it was)
    15. Maureen Tucker – Playing Possum, Bow Wow Records, Albuquerque, NM (sold to me for a significant discount by future Shins keyboardist Marty)
    16. John Fahey — America, Aquarius Records, San Francisco, CA (the beginning of a long-running Fahey obsession)
    17. Fushitsusha – Live (PSF 15/16) — Twisted Village, Cambridge, Mass (first cd on this list)
    18. John Oswald – Plunderphonics, Amoeba Records, Berkeley, CA ( I don’t think I’ve ever escaped Amoeba in less than 2 hours)
    19. Rhys Chatham – A Crimson Grail, Weirdo Records, Somerville, Mass (when the store was still in owner Angela’s Somerville apartment, had to walk through the kitchen to get from one section to another)

    And the one that got away: An import copy of Gang of Four’s Entertainment (months before the American release) at some forgotten (and shitty) record store in a strip mall on North Main St in Providence, RI. Walked in there on a whim, was dumbfounded to see it in their very meager import bin. Didn’t have any money, nor any plastic in those days, so I walked two miles home to get cash, walked all the way back to find (of course) that it had been sold.

  4. Hey Jim, remember the day, a hundred years ago, when you, Gerry, and I rode up to Integrity ‘n Music in Weathersfield, CT in my old Buick, and in the rain? We got lots of vinyl that day! Good memories.

  5. my first memory of record buying went like this. i was 4 years old. my older sister, the one that infected me with rock & roll and bought me my first drumset when i was 3, got married and moved out. i was freaking out because she was taking her records with her. to shut me up, my mom took me to grant’s in riverside, ri and pulled out 4 seasons records until i saw the one with the right cover. it was “the 4 seasons 2nd golden vault of hits”. as a 4 year old, i did know how to work the record player, but not being able to read, had to go by record labels to figure out what i wanted to play. anything on philips was generally safe. oh and of course i never put her records back in sleeves (her poor records)
    another sister sent me “more of the monkees” when i was five. steppin’ stone, of course, blew my little mind.
    though i had 45’s like “i am the walrus”, “she loves you” (on swan of course) and “lady madonna” since i was a baby, my 1st beatles album purchase wasn’t until i was 8 and it was “abbey road” bought at nyanza in bristol.ri. i wanted “help”, but being a dept. store with a tiny record section, i got what i got.
    i bought “rubber soul” at ladd’s in warwick.
    “the early beatles” at beacon records on n. main st. providence. (my friend chris had this one already so i never opened it. he and i would try not to buy the same album so we could amass the entire catalog that much faster)
    i think “sgt. pepper” came from midland records in the wampanoag mall in e.p. but i’m not positive. i do remember looking at the rutles album there, but didn’t buy it.
    i’m sure i bought all of my barry manilo (“I” through “even now”) records at ann & hope in seekonk. it was a dept store sure, but it had a killer little record dept.
    zeppelin I, II, & IV ann & hope seekonk, III, houses of the holy & song remains the same at round again records, providence if memory serves. when the news about back masking came out, i took my zeppies out into the back yard and ran an axe through them. all except song remains the same that is. i lent that one to greg, and when i asked for it back he refused knowing what the records fate would be.
    i bought lennon’s double fantasy at eastern discount on mineral spring ave, providence on hearing the news of his death.
    1st cd was a monkees greatest hits which i bought at in your ear providence months before i owned a cd player.
    1987 was a big year for me. a best friend died, i got married, my band was in our first high profile gig (wbru rock hunt) my first daughter was born, i got my job at stereo discount center and the beatles came out on cd.
    i’m spent.

  6. All from same spot:
    1. “Leaning on a Lamp”- Herman’s Hermits
    2. “Day Tripper/Ticket to Ride”- the Beatles
    Having older siblings eased the compulsion to buy my own records.
    Marilyn bought 45s: “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks.
    George preferred LPs: “5000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong” & The Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe”.
    TR would take a chance- occasionally hitting pay dirt- on sale items like “Little Black Egg” by the Nightcrawlers.
    I stared at the cover of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ “Whipped Cream & Other Delights” until the fat man/owner wheezed, “Hey kid, buy something… or get out.”

    -Woolworths “record section”
    Main St. East Greenwich, RI

  7. marc // April 16, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Reply

    first record was 2-8-65 my 13th b-day at woolworth 5 & 10 in east g r.i. I’m jimmy reed for 78 cents . my first taste of chitown blues and my introduction to the cut-out bin. everytime i hear honest i do i’m transported. james, what we need is the digital equivilent to the cutout bin 25 cents a download. remember the gems you used to find for a buck.

  8. Having an admittedly semi-buzzed Marco Pirroni (gitter for Siouxsie, Sinead and, gulp, Adam Ant) order me what to buy in a record store on Caledonian Road (Islington) that didn’t even have a sign out front so I still have no idea of its name. Ridiculous on about 40 levels. And awesome. One by The Fall and a bizarro comp “Get Yourself a College Girl” (MGM/High Fidelity) featuring The Animals, Stan Getz/Astrud Gilberto, and the Standells. Maybe Dave Clark Five too, I gotta go dig it up.

  9. I remember buying a cutout of Reasons in Tonality on Strata East at a record store you worked at in Providence. I believe it was $1.99. Wish I had bought more than one as they go for dough now. Seeing mentions of Woolworths in East Greenwich is giving me flashbacks. Seems there were several record shops on Main St. through the years but the only record I ever bought at any of them was Living in the Past (Jethro Tull, I have no shame!)

  10. Pingback: Record Store Day: My 10 Most Memorable Buys | Lament For A Straight Line

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